Group criticises new housing plan

CAMPAIGNING villagers have criticised new plans for massive development around Eastergate.

The Coast2Capital Local Enterprise Partnership has included proposals for 2,500-2,700 homes in the area and a new A29 to support an enterprise zone in Bognor Regis.

But the Villages Action Group’s members have said the housing and road have yet to be approved in principle by Arun district councillors.

The councillors are meeting tonight to vote on a recommendation from their planning officers to include Barnham, Eastergate and Westergate as a location for 2,060 homes in their new local plan which will cover the next 15 years.

The housing is intended to fund a Woodgate bypass to remove the need for the A29 to be halted by the level crossing.

Mike Turner, chairman of the action group, said the economic plan from the LEP harked back to Arun’s policies which councillors rejected in January.

“These are still massively opposed in the villages across Arun and by concerned coastal communities who share the villagers’ views on the flood threats to their communities if unsustainable developments are built on the flood plain.

“The housing threatening the greenfield site around Eastergate was proposed at a maximum of 2,060.

“But some 2,500-2,700 houses are promised in the strategic economic plan. We would like to know where the extra 500-700 have come from. Do they plan to annex Fontwell?”

The sacrifice of the villages was linked to the creation of some 4,180 jobs in Bognor in the enterprise zone around the former Lec airfield.

The benefits of the new jobs would largely be incomers while the brunt of the effects would be felt in the villages, said Mr Turner.

Existing businesses would close and communities and their way of life affected.

However, Coast2Capital had no need to even consult on its ideas, unlike the district council. VAG’s members contacted its chief executive, Ron Crank, to view their concerns at its plans.

He confirmed no consultation would be held. Mr Turner said: “There is no facility to comment on their plan and since we have raised our objections to it he has dismissed our views and trusts it is the end of our dialogue.

“We can assure him it is not the end of dialogue and action. It is just the beginning.”